The Jennifer Tremblay Trilogy: The Carousel @ Assembly Roxy

'Theatre', Jeffrey Smith / CC
Photograph: 'Theatre', Jeffrey Smith / CC

Verdict: Highly Recommended Show

Genre: Drama

Venue: Assembly Roxy

Website: Stellar Quines

Company: Stellar Quines Theatre Company

Lowdown

A woman is on an emotional journey into her past and it takes her through a labyrinth of memories.

Review

Stellar Quines Theatre Company present The Jennifer Tremblay Trilogy as part of Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Each show can be viewed as stand alone pieces but they are interlinked to create a powerful trilogy. Written by Jennifer Tremblay, translated by Stellar Quines, and performed by Maureen Beattie the second installment of the trilogy, The Carousel, follows a woman as she travels across the Canadian landscape to her dying mother’s bedside and through a series of memories as she attempts to better understand her family and herself.

The woman speaks to the spirit of her late grandmother desperate for answers to the many mysteries that surround her family, and in-particularly her mothers past which has many dark overtones to it stemming from the brutal childhood at the hands of boarding school nuns. Secrets and moments hidden in time are slowly unravelled over the course of the performance with Beattie portraying frustration, confusion, and even fear at the ending of her mothers life within the contained persona of the woman.

The script is deeply evocative, as is Beattie’s performance which is dark and energetic. The vintage set compliments perfectly, a visual representation of memories and how they begin to fade, and flake over time yet remain strong and powerful when evoked. Lighting and sound design is beautifully done providing another layer of atmosphere as Beattie’s tremendous storytelling skills bring to life the past and present both of which haunt her and threaten to push her over the edge. Sound is used quite heavily throughout the script, mainly in terms of the terrible sound of the convent gates that shut in the woman’s mother as a child.

Jennifer Tremblay’s rich writing and Maureen Beattie’s strong acting have the power to draw audiences into the lives of these really quite ordinary people and relate heavily with them, whether as a son or daughter looking for answers, or as a parent trying to keep things together, or even purely as someone trying to overcome difficulties in their life. The Carousel is a heavy piece that is important in terms of the messages it hopes to convey.

This review originally appeared on FringeReview and is reproduced in partnership with their permission.